Quilt History & Politics Quilts

History of Quilting in America – Westward Expansion, 1840s – 1860s

Westward Expansion, 1840s – 1860s

In the mid-1800s, Americans turned their eyes west. The first wagon trains left Missouri for the territories in 1843, and hundreds of thousands of settlers followed over the next few decades, bringing their quilts with them.  Family and friends of settlers sent their loved ones with mementos of home in the form of signature and friendship quilts. Then, once the wagon stopped moving, settlers began making quilts of their own, some from the clothes they had worn and worn out during their trips. Common patterns include Friendship Star, Road to California, Wandering Foot and others that reflect this era of leaving friends behind and moving west.

Grandmothers Signature Quilt, 2007.
Grandmothers Signature Quilt, 2007.
Farewell, NJ, 2011
Farewell, NJ, 2011. Friends of mine in the Garden State Quilters in NJ made this for me when we moved back to Mass.

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